The link between sleep deprivation and mental illness

You may not be aware of it completely, but you will ultimately choose to have a certain outlook on life based on the wayyou see the world. In light of that, you definitely know the effects of poor sleep if you are reading this article – it leaves you feeling like a total mess, andyou struggle to function or even concentrate at your work. The effects are even worse as you continue having sleep deprivation every day – even leading to issues with mental health.

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Let us be honest though – you cannot get all the sleep you would like, even if you wanted it. In a perfect world, it might be possible, because you would stay in bed until noon and wake up feeling as refreshed as possible. However, this is not a perfect world, and many people struggle with sleep deprivation every day.

Statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) show that adults who sleep less than the minimum seven hours are more likely to report issues with their health, including illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and depression. It is growing more common, thanks to a report stating that 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have some form of sleeping issues, ranging from sleep apnea to insomnia and chronic sleep deprivation.

What is the exact link between sleep deprivation and depression?

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If you are reading this, you probably know the struggle of being a night owl and being a late riser. While the rest of the world is sleeping soundly in bed, you are the only one still awake – and you feel as though you are missing out on so many things (since everything favors the early risers). You do not even need to have an expensive mattress at hand such as Hypnos or buy expensive bedding – you always feel that you should never stay comfortable because you wake up late and you are not being productive.

Because of all these things, it is not uncommon to see many late risers develop chronic sleep deprivation in their quest to wake up as early as everyone else, and develop depression along with it. However, all these problems need to somehow be addressed as soon as they develop, especially when it comes to sleep.

What we mean here is, you might be taking antidepressants and be in a reasonable mood the entire day, only to struggle when you get into bed and you are trying to get some shut eye. If you suffer from chronic pain, the problem is even worse – you cannot deal with other issues properly until you address your sleep habits.

This is because many people who have sleep deprivation also battle with mental health issues and physical problems, which causes their brains to release stress neurotransmitters such as cortisol. This floods their systems, and with time, causes the nervous system to experience overstimulation – leading to difficulties in sleep. At the end of the day, for you to deal with all the issues present, you must deal with your sleep.

Tips to help break the cycle of mental health problems and sleep

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Sleep hygiene

Even though this may sound too simplistic as a whole tip, it actually helps immensely when you are trying to set a regular sleeping schedule. In fact, a major reason why many people do not see benefits in their sleep when they suffer from illnesses such as depression is all tied to the bad sleep habits they have developed over time.

For instance, you feel the need to stay in your bed the entire day because you lack the energy to get up and engage actively with others, which means you go to sleep at later times than normal.

Key to establishing this includes: maintaining the length of naps to 30 minutes, making your bedroom a sleep-only zone, having a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol when it is close to bedtime (as they both interfere with your sleep cycles).

Giving yourself a chance to write expressively

Writing is therapeutic, whether you know it or not. It always gives you a chance to express how you feel, even the things you might not be comfortable telling someone else – and therefore act as an outlet for your moods and emotions.

Whenever you have racing thoughts, whether positive or negative, grab a piece of paper and write down everything you feel at that moment. After you have finished, destroy the paper by tearing or burning it.

This technique proves to calm down the nervous system by removing racing thoughts from your mind, which ultimately induces sleep. It also provides the brain with a chance to create alternative pathways that will help in processing depression, anxiety or pain in other ways, and helps you to fight the negative aspects of the condition.

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CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

If you already struggle or are generally dealing with any kind of mental illness or chronic pain as well as sleep deprivation, it is very useful to see a therapist who will help you sort your thoughts out.

Through the use of CBT, the therapist can assist you to spot and replace nay behaviors and thoughts that are problematic and impeding your growth, as they are affecting your progress with building healthy habits.

For instance, you may struggle with thoughts about sleep, which ultimately lead to anxiety and make it difficult to fall asleep. When you go for therapy sessions and use CBT, this can be a useful way of addressing chronic pain, the mental health issue you are suffering from, and any sleep disorders that arise from it.

Through working with a sleep therapist in particular, they can help you get back on track in terms of sleeping well and dealing with any mental issues that arise. This may be through the prescription of medication for anti-anxiety, therapy sessions, or other solutions.

Final thoughts

The link between mental health and sleep deprivation cannot be understated, as your sleep habits play a major role in that. If you do suffer from any of these issues though, it is important to address them as early as possible and manage the other aspects of your life easier.

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